By Sylvia Dunnavant Hines
Texas Metro News Correspondent
Dedication, discipline and determination are attributes of Damarcus Offord that has caused former U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson to list him as one of her top staffers in her 50 years of government service.
“Over the years, I have not had anybody better than Damarcus,” recalled the recently retired legislator. “He is thoughtful, diligent and respectful. There is no one that he would not approach if he thought it was important regarding his responsibilities in our office.”
Before her demise last year, Linda Mitchell, owner of Black & Clark Funeral Home had similar expressions when speaking of the young high schooler who she introduced to the funeral business and is now making a name for himself in so many areas and at so many levels.
A stellar work ethic and loyalty are two characteristics that are important, he says, acknowledging that his interest in politics started in middle school at Pearl C. Anderson in South Dallas.
“I got involved in student government and student council in 6th grade. It was then that I developed a love for serving people,” said 31-year-old Offord.
While he was still in elementary school, Offord became one of 30 students who took a field trip to the nation’s capitol with longtime DISD administrator Shirley Ison Newsome. Along the route the students made several stops to historical spots from South Dallas to Washington, DC.
Not only would this field trip spark Offord’s interest in politics, but it would provide a forecast of his future.
A few decades later, he would be very familiar with Washington, DC as he became the Director of Outreach for Congresswoman Johnson.
Along the way he worked in the Dallas County Clerk’s Office and the Juvenile Department. He was also a field director for Dallas Votes 4 Kids, a Council liaison for the City of Dallas and Director of Community Relations for Black & Clark Funeral Home.
Offord also served as campaign manager for Justin Henry for Dallas ISD Trustee, a post that Henry won.
At a young age he was on a political track with his political career dating back to Lincoln Humanities and Communications Magnet High School when he was leading protests and speaking out to then-governor Rick Perry.
Today he is working in intergovernmental Relations for Dallas ISD. After Offord’s graduation from the University of North Texas-Dallas, he began an internship that
would have a profound effect on his future.
“When I was 21, I was given an intern opportunity for the Congresswoman. I learned, I grew, and I developed a deeper dedication to authentic service because of Congresswoman Johnson. In her own way, she has not only created an amazing example of how to make progressive change, but she also brought so many along with her including me,” posted Offord on LinkedIn.
According to Offord, he was inspired as he worked with the iconic congresswoman as she closed out her 50 years of public service.
“First of all, he cared about the work. He cared about people. He started off as an intern, and when he became a staff member, he was a very valuable employee,” said Johnson.
As a young leader, Offord advises other millennials not to chase dollars, but to be led by their passion.
“You have to pursue your passion. Seek whatever makes you get up in the morning, not just a paycheck or a position,” said Offord.
Committed to living a life of public service, Offord said his life motto is to not start anything that he doesn’t finish. He watched closely the words and deeds of elected official like Johnson.
“The most rewarding thing was watching Congresswoman Johnson work and making sure the constituents got what they needed. No other Texan has brought more to Texas and done more for Texas. She has worked across the aisles with both parties to make sure that things got done,” said Offord.
Offord attributes his most valuable lessons from Congresswoman Johnson as the importance of being trustworthy and loyal, “Her job was not about a title it was about doing the work. I learned firsthand from her what it means to give back and help others. She always made decisions based on constituents and community service,” said Offord, adding that it was an emotional time as he watched Congresswoman Johnson’s five decades of public service come to an end.
The two still have a close relationship.
“He had a caring spirit. He was very active in his church. He was very diligent in his duties. He cared about the people he worked with. I don’t know anyone that he worked with or reached out to that had a problem with him,” said Congresswoman Johnson referring to Offord’s responsibilities as one of her key staff members.
Still uncertain about his future political ambitions, Offord feels his success will be measured by making half of the impact that his mentor has made for Texas, and this family man is also blazing a trail for his two young children.
And who knows. As a 20-year-old he sought a seat on the Dallas ISD School board. Offord challenged Bernadette Nutall, who received a majority of votes cast for District 9, receiving 2,106 votes; while Offord garnered 1,816 votes.
More than a decade later he is more experienced and has gained a wealth of experience, but still he’s not making any projections.
“I am letting God order my next footsteps. Wherever he sends me I will go,” said Offord.